Cut the Volume to Keep Time

West Coast Swing Online Musicality & Timing

There are some songs that really challenge your ability to keep the beat. Lyrical songs that have vocals but no other instruments, pop songs that hit to silence for more than a couple of beats—if you want to stay on time to these songs, you can’t rely on the music to tell you when the new phrase starts.

This drill is designed to build your internal metronome so that you can keep the beat in your head when the music isn’t there to back you up.

The Drill: Find a song with a consistent beat and no major breaks. Count along with the song for roughly 32 beats. When you feel like you have a solid feel for the beat, keep counting while you cut the volume on your music player. Don’t pause the song—you want the music to continue while you’re not able to hear it!

Continue counting without the music for 8 beats and then turn up the volume again as you keep counting. Hopefully, you are still on time with the music!

As you get better at this drill, you can listen for fewer counts before cutting the volume, and you can count in your head longer before you restore the volume. Be sure to do the drill with different speeds of music. Before long, you’ll be keeping your own internal metronome when the music isn’t doing the work for you!

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